Attention to Detail

For anyone who has worked in fine dining before you’ll know that apart from the high-quality service and food, another important aspect is the presentation, cleanliness and the attention to the smallest of details is what separates it from casual dining. I recently returned to fine dining because I missed it and wanted to get back into that demanding, attention to detail kind of workplace. Although presentation and cleanliness are things that every restaurant should pay attention to, fine dining normally has a higher standard when it comes to it.

So I want to go over what you should look for when it comes to attention to detail working as a server. First up I always say that your section should be a representation of yourself. Keep it clean and looking good for your guests, and hey, do it for yourself too (it’s nice to work in a clean environment).

Below you might not find some of the points in every restaurant but I wanted to give broad examples.

For me, I always check my section first:

  • Cutlery/Roll-ups – Are the napkins the roll-ups are in stained/look terrible? If the cutlery is laid out on the table are there water spots on them, dried cheese (ugh) or rust marks?
  • Tables – Are salt and pepper shakers dirty? dried ketchup/mustard on the tabletop, gum under the tables? (yes this still happens), table legs clean? Does the table have everything it should have on it?
  • Glassware and plates – Fingerprints on the glasses? stains/dust on the plates etc?
  • Chairs and booths – Any crumbs or food taking a seat here? dirty chair legs? anything in the booth cracks?
  • Floor – Lettuce leaves, sticky drink spills, condiment stains or whatever the previous guests decided to throw on the ground.

Now that I’m all done with my section, If I have time I will move onto:

  • Entrance to the restaurant – Are there cigarette butts, coffee cups, gum wrappers or anything else making the front look messy?
  • Menu’s – Are they wiped down and stain-free? Do they have everything page they need inside?
  • Bill folds/cash trays – No one likes getting their bill on a sticky or dirty bill fold/cash tray. I know I don’t!
  • Bathrooms – In most places this is taken care of by someone other than the server (who wants to see their server coming out of the bathroom after cleaning it?) but just before my shift I’ll pop my head in and make sure things are tidy and stocked, then will do a thorough hand wash (a very important part which I wrote about in this post “Wash your hands“).
  • Light fixtures/ceiling corners – Cobwebs love these areas.
  • Server stations – Are there dirty napkins, plates or glassware here from a recently bussed table? Is the area organized and clean?
  • Windows – Kids love to leave their fingerprint signatures on windows.
  • The pass – Restock and clean all areas, wipe down tabletops and the pass itself, throw out stacks of tickets on the spike.
  • Bar area – Although the bartenders are generally on top of this it never hurts to lend a hand and clean up the service bar area.
  • Host stand – Like the bar, this should be taken care of by the hosts/hostesses but take a moment to check it out.

There are countless things to clean in a restaurant and although it can be frustrating getting paid minimum wage to be a cleaner/organizer, it’s part of the job and it does help to pass the time until you are sat or needed by your tables. Like at home, if everyone puts in 10 minutes or so of cleaning each day it makes the overall cleaning a lot easier, and your restaurant will look in top condition (many hands make light work).

You only get one chance at a first impression so be sure that from the moment your guests walk up to the restaurant to the time they leave everything is looking immaculate.

Would you return to a dirty restaurant?